15 July 2018

Review: Orchard Toys Superhero Lotto

If you're looking for some new games to keep the kids busy this summer holiday then you've got to check out Orchard Toys. They've recently released some lovely new additions to their collection and the kids have been sent one to test out. Here's a little bit about Orchard Toys for those of you not familiar with the brand: "Orchard Toys started out around a kitchen table making blocks and stencils for a local nursery school. Now, over 40 years later, we ship to over 50 different countries around the world and are recognised as a leading manufacturer of educational games and puzzles both in the UK and globally.

We are proud of our British roots, and still design, produce and pack all our products from the market town of Wymondham in Norfolk. With a reputation for quality and durability, we pride ourselves on creating products that can withstand the wear and tear of little hands, whether this be at home, in a childcare setting or in schools."

As you can see Orchard Toys are a super British brand who care a lot about their products and the children that use them. They kindly sent Logan and Harlow their brand new Superhero Lotto game to review so here's what we thought.

First thoughts from myself are the excellent colourful inclusive packging the game comes in. It's a sturdy box with a boy and a girl superhero on the front and lots of helpful snippets on information and pictures on the back. A quick scan over the box from my 8 year old and he knew how to play this game right away. The 3 year old can't read yet but after explaining the rules and how to play she got stuck right in.

As the name suggests the game is a fun superhero matching game which features two levels of difficulty for younger and older players. Perfect for my two with their big age gap. There's 4 superhero boards, 24 item cards and 1 instruction leaflet included in the box. To play you simply click the superhero boards together, choose if you want the easy or the harder side to play, spread out the item cards face down on the floor and you're ready to begin. Each player then takes it in turn to select an item card, turn it over and see if that item matches anything on their superhero board. For the easy side of the board it has the 6 items all pictured for you. On the harder side it has a photo and a list of stats at the top and 6 blank item spaces so you've to use your brain to work out what items go with which superhero. Great for working that grey matter.

This game is suitable for ages 3-7 and for 2-4 players. It's great for developing matching and memory skills, encouraging observational skills and helps to promote discussion. Children really do learn through play and Orchard Toys games are so good at helping that learning. We really do love their games and have a stash of them in our house.

Both Logan and Harlow really enjoyed the Superhero Lotto matching game. With Logan being that bit older he found it quite easy but still loved to play and Harlow really enjoyed finding all the items and matching them to her board. She was even feeling generous and helping me to fill up my board when we were playing together, how kind.

Superhero Lotto retails for £7.75 and I'd highly recommend for all those superhero lovers out there. It's bright, colourful and perfect for little hands to play. It's compact as well so makes for an excellent travel game. We recently took it on holiday with us up North to keep the kids busy.

We were sent this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

13 July 2018

The Three Sisters Bar do Fringe For Bairns

The Edinburgh Fringe is almost upon us and if you're like me and trying to stop the kids killing each other then you need to get yourselves along to the Three Sisters bar in Edinburgh's Cowgate for some free fun at their Fringe for Bairns events. Yes you read that right, totally FREE fantastic fun for all the family.

From Sunday 29th July to Wednesday 1st August the Three Sisters have some brilliant fun packed days full of lovely activities for the kids. As I mentioned the event is totally free but if you do happen to enjoy the performers there's an opportunity to give donations on the day however it's not required - just a nice thing to do if you want to.

Here's a taster of what's on the agenda;

Sunday 29th July
9am-12am- Frozen Sing-a-Long with Anna & Elsa
12am-2pm- Fairy-tale Themed Arts & Crafts, Magician, Balloon Modeller, & Face Painter

Monday 30th July
10am-12am- Lego Games, Lego Themed Arts & Crafts, Magician, Balloon Modeller, & Face Painter
12am-2pm Bricks 4 Kidz - Glasgow, Scotland

Tuesday 31st July
10am-2pm- Animal Themed Arts & Crafts, Magician, Balloon Modeller, & Face Painter
10am-2pm- Petting Zoo

Wednesday 1st Aug
10am-2pm- Superhero Animal Themed Arts & Crafts, Magician, Balloon Modeller, & Face Paint

The Three Sisters have also partnered with Scottish Autism as they'll be hosting free kids cinemas every Sunday throughout the fringe bringing you Disney classics, cinema snacks & special guests. How amazing is that! These events are of course very relaxed and child friendly so if the kids wants to jump around and sing along it's totally OK. It's all about the kids having fun at the end of the day.

Cinema Shows - start at 9am;

Sunday the 29th July - Frozen Sing-A-Long with Anna and Elsa

Sunday the 5th August - Live Action Beauty and The Beast with Belle

Sunday the 12th August - Brave Cinema and Kids ceilidh

Sunday the 19th August - Moana Cinema with Moanna

And since the kids might get pekish (when do they not!) there'll be plenty of different street food stalls available so no one will be going hungry at #Fringe4Bairns. I'll be there with my two on Monday 30th July so if you see me do pop over and say hello. Hopefully I'll be able to talk if I'm not refereeing fight number 1,289 for the kids!

8 July 2018

Review: Strictly Briks Brik Tower

I'm always looking for new ways to keep the kids busy and occupied with their little hands. It means they're less likely to use them on each other! Recently I've noticed we seem to have an abundance of Lego in the house but not many toys or accessories which we can use to play along side it. This is where Strictly Briks comes in. They provide a wonderful assortment of accessories compatible with Lego, Mega Bloks, Tyco, PixelBlocks, KRE-O, or K'NEX Bricks etc which gives tons of opportunity for exciting play.

The kids were recently sent some of their lovely products to try out and when they spotted the Strictly Briks Baseplates plus stackers they couldn't wait to get stuck in. The particular pack we were sent contained 6 baseplates and 50 stackers. Each baseplate measures 10”x 10” so a decent sized square. The first thing the kids did was build a tower with the baseplates and stackers. It reminded me of a multistory car park and Harlow filled up each section with Lego and a different array of toys.

Logan was really impressed with the size of the tower and thought it was great he could lounge on the sofa and play at the same time. Both the kids found it easy to stick Lego bricks and figures to the baseplates and loved using other toys on it as well, especially Harlow. She really enjoyed placing lots of her little toys on the Brik Tower.

The baseplates and stackers pack we were sent retails for £21.99 on Amazon at present and if you like the look of the Strictly Briks products there's a whole host of sets to choose from. There's rainbow plates and stackers, a basic briks bag, circle and half circle base plates, road base plates, there's clear base plates etc. The list really does go on. A quick search on Amazon and you'll be able to see what's available. The good thing about Strictly Briks is that all of their products promote creativity and learning through building so the fun never stops.

These stackable baseplates make building vertically quick and easy and take creative building to the next level. Overall myself and the kids found this Strictly Briks product very sturdy and easy to use. For the price it's a decent add on to any Lego, Mega Bloks, Tyco, PixelBlocks, KRE-O, or K'NEX Bricks type products and definitely adds another dimension to the type of play.

We were sent this product in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

7 July 2018

6 Outdoor Toys you need in your garden this Summer

With the sun set to be shining for weeks to come and the schools finally out for Summer I can see there's going to be a lot of garden time for the kids on the horizon. It's not often us folks in Scotland get to enjoy such amazing weather so whilst us Mums, Dads and Grandparents soak up the rays why not keep the kids busy in the garden with these 6 top outdoor toys from what2buy4kids. And of course make the fun even sweeter by entering my 10% off discount code at the checkout - BRENEWS218

Sky Zoom Copter
I totally loved these when I was a kid and at £5.99 they're a bargain garden toy to play with. Suitable from ages 6 upwards kids will have great fun flying the Sky Zoom Copter outdoors. This outdoor helicopter has a rip cord launching mechanism so batteries are not required. It's simple and easy to use and can provide hours of entertainment.

Nick Baker's Bug Safari
My daughter loves beasties and bugs and this bug safari set for ages 5+ makes an excellent toy for budding animal lovers. The set allows kids to get the perfect view of a range of different creatures and you can use the kit to capture different mini-beasts then observe them before setting them free once more. Kids will love seeing how many different creatures they can find in their own garden or at the park, making this a gift that’s both educational and lots of fun. RRP £13.99

Bump n Go Bubble Train
This cute little engine is perfect for the younger kids in the family. Suitable for ages 2-4 years this amazing little train not only makes it’s own way around, cleverly avoiding obstacles but it even blows bubbles as it goes. Train sound effects included. Simply fill it with the bubble solution and what it release a continuous stream of bubbles from the chimney. RRP £16.99.

Soak 'n' Sling Balls
Add a twist to the usual water balloon fight with these soak n sling balls which can be used again and again. The colourful sponge balls absorb lots of water so make great toys in the paddling pool too. You get 2 balls in each pack and at £2.50 they're the perfect price!

Dinosaur Pop Up Play Tent
It's so hot in the sun at the moment that this fab pop up play tent is perfect for hiding in the shade and letting their imaginations run wild. Kids will love going on a dinosaur adventure featuring a wonderful Jurassic-inspired scene, the tent’s highlight is a fearsome T-Rex and Pterodactyl. It's easy to assemble and can be popped up at a moment’s notice to provide a fun play environment indoors or outside. RRP £27.99 and if dinosaurs aren't your thing there's always pink, blue, fairy, knights castle, space rocket or pirate designs to choose from.

Sand Cupcake Set
Talk about taking sand castle making to the next level! This cute little sand cupcake set is an amazing accessory to add to any garden sand pit. I know my daughter would go crazy for this. At £10.99 it's a fair price and kids will love making sandy cupcakes for their teddies to pretend eat. Simply fill the cupcake mould with sand before adding a cupcake topper, then ‘bake’ in the sun. With four separate moulds, kids can make cupcakes for the whole family.

4 July 2018

Celebrating 3 Years of Breastfeeding

In January of this year I finally stopped breastfeeding my daughter. She’d just turned 3 and her little teeth were getting a bit too much for me so I decided it was time to stop and finish our journey. I felt quite sad about it all but also had a sense of achievement around it too. I never intended to breastfeed for so long but it some how just happened. It’s probably down to the eagerness and strong will of my toddler and me being a lazy bum and letting it continue. She was happy though and I wasn’t at all bothered that we were still going so all was fine.

As I said I stopped shortly after her birthday in January. I was dreading the bed time meltdowns of not having the boob however she’s actually been ok. A couple of times she’s cried to be breastfed but a quick cuddle and some kisses has made everything better. The only issue now is a new bed time routine. Before it would be a snuggle down to feed on mummy and daddy’s bed before one of us lifted her into her own bed for the night. This was fine as it worked but with no longer feeding it needed to change slightly.

So now after Harlow puts her pjs on it’s straight to her bed with at least 3 stories before the lights go out and she makes us sing her some songs. Usually wheels on the bus and incy wincy spider. For a while she was happy with this and would go straight to sleep but now she wants us to lay down beside her in her bed. If the other half or I don’t do this is seems to be a complete battle and crying fit for the whole night! That worked for a while but now nothing really works. I’m being a completely bad mum and giving her the iPad to watch Moana or Frozen for a little while and that usually sends her to sleep. I’m not sure if the lighter nights are making bed time more difficult as well. Let’s be honest, it’s not dark at all is it. Even with black out blinds and curtains it’s just not keeping all the light out. If you have any tips for bed time then do send them my way as they’ll be much appreciated. You think you have the bed time routine cracked then it all changes. Nightmare!

Breastfeeding really did help me lose a lot of the baby weight (and more) that I had gained during pregnancy and now that I’ve stopped I’m having to watch what I’m eating again. It’s so hard though and I often find myself pigging out so I’ve put some weight back on. We can’t have it all though can we (I wish). If I could possibly lose a stone or even half a stone I’d be quite happy. Well I say that but then is anybody ever really happy with their weight or the way they look? My clothes are getting tight though so I do need to calm down on the food or take up exercise.

I’d love to hear your extended breastfeeding journeys and how you’re getting on so please do get in touch. You never know I could always feature you on the blog.

2 July 2018

Review & Giveaway: Ultimate Cars & Space Number Crunch Books

This month Carlton Books have sent Logan two new additions to read and review for them. As you'll know from previous posts we're mad book fans in this house and any new book for reading is an exciting prospect. Space Number Crunch and Ultimate Cars arrived on our doorstep in record time and Logan seriously couldn't wait to dive in. The day these arrived he was actually having quite a tricky day to himself so these two books cheered him right up.

Fancy flash cars seem to be a thing of beauty and wonder among the young kids at school and Logan's definitely interested in them himself. He's always watching YouTube videos or scrolling Instagram with his Dad so the Ultimate Cars book has given him something to drool over at bed time. This book has 80 pages packed with a high octane mix of the world's hottest cars, from supremely stylish sports classics to the latest in full-throttle super cars and hyper cars. Retailing at £9.99 and suitable for ages 6+ it makes a great little gift for the tiny car lovers in your life.

Logan was so thrilled to receive his copy of the Ultimate Cars and scanned the pages with resound interest. I wasn't allowed to leave his bedside while he proceeded to recite interesting facts and throw pictures of amazing cars in my face. To say he loved this book is an understatement. One of his favourites had to be the double page spread of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. It's so sleek and eye catching and fast!! Did you know that the Veyron can go from zero to 200km/h and brake to a standstill again in just 12.5 seconds! Amazing.

There's so many different sections in this book to keep the reader entertained from weird wheels to one-off wonders and of course off road warriors. I highly recommend for the car fanatic in the family.

Next up is Space Number Crunch. There are a few number crunch books to buy with Logan already having the Dinosaur Number Crunch in his collection. Space Number Crunch did not disappoint with a very excited boy sponging up all the facts as soon as I passed the book over. Space is something that really fascinates Logan and with 4 or more visits to the National Space Centre under his belt in the past few years he really was delighted to receive this book. There's 96 pages full of incredible galaxies, brightest stars, coldest planets, amazing astronauts, longest spacewalks and so much more. It's £9.99 and suitable for age 6+ as well.

This book is perfect for young inquisitive minds who want to know what's going on in outer space. It really helps Logan settle down and calm before bed which is great as he really needs that. I'd also recommend as an additional home education resource as every page is crammed with small junks of interesting facts that will keep the kids enthralled. Logan hates reading big chunky pieces of writing for long but these number crunch books are excellent for breaking it down and keeping it fresh. They use fab images, fonts and lots of colour to pull in the eye and the rest follows doesn't it.

So if you like the sound of both Ultimate Cars and Space Number Crunch then you're in luck as I have 3 copies of each to give away to 3 luck readers! Simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

27 June 2018

5 Things To Do When Visiting Wick

We're about to embark on another adventure to the Scottish Highlands and of course visiting our favourite Landmark Trust cottage near Wick. Every time we visit (we're almost in double figures now) we always find something new and exciting to do and explore. A lot of people might think it's quite remote and a bit boring the further North you go but they couldn't be more wrong.

The further up you go the more magical the land becomes and it honestly feels like some sort of fairy tale adventure waiting to unfold before your eyes. So to add some excitement to the magic I've put together a little list of 5 things to do when visiting Wick. We really do love it there so read on for our tips.

Castle of Old Wick
When visiting Scotland it's only proper that you visit a castle or two along the way and the Castle of Old Wick is perfect to explore. It's a castle ruin so totally free to visit (as there's not much left) and it is said to be one of the oldest castles in Scotland dating back to the 1160s. There's a little information board nearby telling you some fab history so definitely worth popping by. You can get some nice photos there too.

Berriedale Beach
This is a gorgeous little pebble beach and the kids love it. There's always something new to look at and all the different sized pebbles make great building blocks or chipping stones to throw into the sea. There's even a tiny little cave to explore which sends the kids imaginations wild. This year when we visited in January we even got to witness a sea rescue helicopter practicing it's rescue missions which was pretty amazing. Love this wee beach.

Fossil Hunting at Achanarras Quarry
Caithness is full of different fossil hunting spots but the one that's most accessible is Achanarras Quarry. It's well sign posted and easy to find however it is a bit of a walk to get to. My two managed it no bother and it's well worth walking to the quarry to have a hunt around for fossils. There's so much slate to dig through I'm sure you'll find something. After about 30 minutes we managed to find our very own fish fossil which is really cool. It's now proudly displayed in our house. I like to show it to people when they come over haha.

Gold Panning in Helmsdale
A little birdie (thanks Jess) told me that there's still gold panning alive and well in the highlands of Scotland and she was totally right. Would you believe for £5 a day (that's all equipment included) you can pan for gold at the Kildonan Burn in Helmsdale! Totally amazing. We haven't done this as a family yet but since we'll be up North very soon I'm definitely going to take the kids along with a picnic and have a fab day out.

Dunrobin Castle
Every time we've been to Wick we always forget to pop into Dunrobin Castle or it hasn't been the season and the castle has been closed. This year we're definitely making it along and I personally can't wait. The Castle, which resembles a French ch√Ęteau with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed London’s Houses of Parliament, and Scotland’s own Sir Robert Lorimer. The gardens look absolutely stunning and they also have birds of prey displays throughout the year. I hope the kids love it as much as I will.

So there you go, 5 things to do when visiting Wick. If you have any brilliant places to visit near Wick please do let me know as we're always looking for new and exciting things to do with the kids.


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